Abandoned Marx Generator – Istra, Russia - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Istra, Russia

Abandoned Marx Generator

A dormant lightning machine equal to all the power in Russia. 

Towering up above a forest near Moscow is the strange configuration of tubes that were once used as a shockingly powerful lightning machine.

The Marx generator — often mistaken in appearance for a Tesla coil — was constructed in the 1970s by the Russian Electrical Engineering Institute. The aim was to have a machine to test lightning insulation. When at peak power, the Marx generator could discharge for 100 microseconds onto a platform at the same level as all generating facilities in the country. 

Now the Soviet-era tower is mostly abandoned, although reportedly still rarely turned on, including in August of 2014. But the risk of a sudden electrical storm hasn’t stopped many would-be explorers from venturing near its incredible towers. 

Know Before You Go

The area is fenced off and guarded with dogs. The fence has holes in many places but going in that way would mean crossing through a dense forest and there is no way to do that unnoticed. Thankfully though, most of this structure is viewable over the fence.